August 14, 2019


These have to be some of the worst photos of a cake that I have ever put up in this blog but the cake is one of the best.
Some time ago Phil of "As Strong as Soup" blog posted about Michael Barry's Crafty Chocolate Cake and ever since then I have been meaning to bake it. It's hard to believe that I have waited seven years to make this cake! (So many cakes, so little time.)  You can read Phil's post about it here.
Michael Barry had the cooking slot in the old Food and Drink series on the BBC and I remember enjoying his no nonsense style.  Phil gives more information about him in his post and a link to the recipe on the Oxfam website.  Sadly the link no longer works so I googled the cake and came across it posted as a contributor's recipe on Nigella Lawson's website.  Something about this version of the cake somehow didn't quite ring true and at the back of my mind I thought it was not the same as the original.
Luckily, not long ago I acquired a copy of  the book that it comes from, Michael Barry's Food and Drink Cookbook, published in 1991. (From a charity shop for £1, where else?)  There are subtle differences between his recipe and the one on Nigella's website so I decided to go with the original.
The cake was destined for a birthday get together of just five ladies and I was dismayed when the cream I intended to fill it with would simply not whip up stiffly enough to use it.  Glurpy cream oozing out of the middle of an otherwise acceptable cake just will not do for a birthday so I left it out and just filled it with a good layer of cherry jam instead.  I was equally, if not more dismayed when the second sponge cracked as I placed it on top of the first.  A good dense dusting of icing sugar was not enough to hide the crack but nobody seemed to mind.
Cracked top and lack of cream notwithstanding, this was an excellent cake.  Phil waxes lyrical about it and quite rightly so.  In the book Mr Barry boasts that his cake was quicker to make and preferred by the Food and Drink team over a similar recipe by the WI! 
It is a doddle to make, (although it takes longer to bake than other all-in-one sponge cakes) has a lovely light texture and good chocolate flavour.  What more could you want from a recipe?
175g self raising flour
4 heaped tblsp cocoa powder
1 heaped tsp baking powder
100g caster sugar
1 dessert spoon black treacle
150ml sunflower oil
150ml milk
2 large eggs
For the filling
4-5 tblsp cherry jam
approx. 200ml double cream
Grease and line the bases of two 18cm sandwich tins.  Preheat the oven to 160C / 140 Fan.
Put all the cake ingredients into a food processor and blend until you have a dark brown creamy batter.
Divide between the two tins and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.
To serve, sandwich the cakes together with a good layer of jam and some whipped cream.  dust thickly with icing sugar on top.
Cuts into 8-10 slices.


  1. There are certain recipes which will always sum up a period of my life and this is certainly one of them. When I first saw MB make this cake on TV I was baking a fair bit (and cooking a lot of Chinese food for some reason, but that's another story) and this was a bit of a revelation. Food processors were still fairly rare then and knowing you could make a cake so easily was a source of great joy. In fact, I wasn't alone and everyone I knew (as long as they had a processor) seemed to be making it. As I recall the tops often cracked. I don't think I've made this cake again since 2012. Shame on me.

    1. Phil, my go-to chocolate cake recipe is an all-in-one cake in my Homepride Book of Baking that I bought in (I think) 1972. In those days I didn't own a food mixer or processor of any kind, just a Pyrex bowl and a wooden spoon, so I just used to beat as hard as I could. It always turned out well.
      This one could be even better except for the longer baking time. Next time I'm not in a hurry to get the cake baked I will make it again.